The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Here is an amusing account of a lazy school teacher which was furnished me by Capt. James H. Sallee of Igo Post Office, Ozark County, Mo. "The first school I ever attended was taught on Little North Fork just below where Thornfield now is. The house was a small log hut with dirt floor and most anything was used for seats. It was a small subscription school and was taught by a man of the name of Reeves Smith who was rather a lazy dont care sort of a fellow. He kept no proper order during school hours and let the students idle away their time and would lay down and go to sleep at noon and his naps would be prolonged beyond the hour for taking up school. We students become tired of his tardy manner of teaching for he indulged in too much sleep and we were overdoing ourselves in doing as we pleased. One day at noon while the teacher was lying asleep on a bench we arranged among us that we would disturb his slumbers. We were all out of doors when we formed the conspiracy against him. The older boys ask me to do the work while they would protect me. I was a small boy then and was liable to be persuaded into mischief. The teacher was lying on his side and while I crept into the house, the other scholars stood around the hut and peeped through the cracks between the logs. I crept up in a sly way behind him and put my hands against his back and give him a sudden push and off he went onto the ground and I darted out at the door among the other boys. By the time he struck the ground and got his eyes open we all looked innocent and he was notable to identify the guilty one. He got up in a rage and raved all around and threatened to whip the one who shoved him off the bench. Of course I did not confess my guilt, nor none of the others told on me. I remember that one of the larger scholars suggested to him that he was dreaming and rolled off in his sleep. But he failed to persuade him to believe it. I do not think he ever found out who dared to disturb his sleeping moments. I recollect that Fielding Holt and Sam Jones were among those who said they would prevent the teacher from punishing me if he discovered who insulted him. This is given you as a sample of the way some of the schools were taught in the pioneer days," said the old veteran of the Civil War.

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